February 21, 2021
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The family of Malcolm X released a letter written by a deceased officer claiming that the New York Police Department and the FBI were involved in the assassination of the famed African-American activist.
Malcolm X was an influential speaker who rose to prominence as one of the prominent voices of Nation of Islam, an African-American Muslim group that supported black racial separatism. He spent more than a decade with the group before distancing himself and finally cutting ties in 1964.
Shortly thereafter, he moderated some of his initial comments on the benefits of racial separation.
He was assassinated in New York’s Audubon Ballroom as he prepared to deliver a speech. Three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted of shooting him to death.
The letter released at a press conference Saturday was attributed to former undercover NYPD officer Raymond Wood. His cousin Reggie Wood accompanied one of Malcolm X’s daughters at a press conference at the site where the Audubon Ballroom once stood to present the document.
Raymond Wood’s letter said he had been pressured by his NYPD supervisors to manipulate two members of Malcolm X’s security detail into committing crimes that resulted in their arrest just days before the fatal shooting.
Those arrests prevented the two men from taking over guarding the entrance to the event hall and were part of the conspiracy between the NYPD and FBI to assassinate Malcolm X, according to the letter.
“At the direction of my bosses, I was told to encourage leaders and members of civil rights groups to commit crimes,” Wood’s letter said.
Some historians and scholars have argued that the wrong men were convicted. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said last year that he would review the convictions in the case.
After Saturday’s press conference, Vance’s office issued a statement saying that “the review of this matter is active and ongoing.”
The NYPD said in a separate statement that it “has provided all available records relevant to this case to the district attorney” and “remains committed to assisting with that review in any way.” The FBI declined to comment on the matter.
Malcolm X’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, said she had always lived with uncertainty about the circumstances of her father’s death.
“Any evidence that provides further insight into the truth behind that terrible tragedy should be thoroughly investigated,” she told the news conference.
(With information from Reuters)